In a study from The University of Tennessee, scientists found that eating only one meal per day is linked to an increased risk of mortality in American adults 40 years old and older.
Previous studies and current dietary guidelines have mainly focused on dietary intake and food patterns and health.
But little is known about the association between eating habits such as meal frequency, skipping and intervals, and death risks.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the associations of meal frequency, skipping, and intervals with all-cause and heart disease death.
They analyzed data from more than 24,000 adults (aged ≥40 years) who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2014.
Death and underlying causes of death were examined by linkage to death records through December 31, 2015.
The team found during the follow-up period, 4,175 deaths occurred, including 878 heart disease deaths. Most participants ate three meals per day.
Compared with people eating three meals per day, people eating one meal per day had a higher risk of all-cause death and heart disease death.
Participants who skipped breakfast had a higher risk of heart disease death compared with those who did not.
People who skipped lunch or dinner had a higher risk of all-cause death compared with those who did not.
The team also found in people eating three meals per day, those with an average interval of less than 4.5 hours between meals had a higher risk of all-cause death, compared with those having a meal interval of 4.6 to 5.5 hours.
Based on the findings, the team suggests that in U.S. adults aged 40 years or older, eating one meal per day is linked to an increased risk of all-cause and heart disease mortality.
Skipping breakfast is linked to an increased risk of heart disease death, whereas skipping lunch or dinner is linked to an increased risk of all-cause death.
Among people with three meals per day, a meal interval of fewer than 4.5 hours between two meals is linked to a higher all-cause death risk.
The study was conducted by Yangbo Sun et al and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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